jQuery: Saving Money and Saving the Web

by Tyler P
New open source technologies are allowing businesses to decrease overhead costs and improve their web presence at the same time. In 2006, a new javascript library called jQuery was envisioned by John Resig, a JavaScript Tool Developer for the Mozilla Corporation (“John resig -,” 2010). John Resig proposed the idea of creating a javascript library based on the CSS selector method to interact with DOM level elements (“History – jQuery,” 2010) . The library was welcomed by the developer community and even given front-page status on Digg and de.licio.us on its launch date (“History – jQuery,” 2010). The new library has had a huge impact on the development community, allowing online businesses to harness web 2.0 interactivity at a much faster and less expensive rate.

Four years and millions of download later, the jQuery library is being used by 39% of the 10,000 most popular sites, 29% of the top 100,000 sites and 20% of the top million popular sites (“jquery usage statistics,” 2010) .

Figure 1: jQuery usage among the 10,000, 100,000 and 1,000,000 most popular sites
source: http://trends.builtwith.com/javascript/JQuery

jQuery makes up 41% of the javascript libraries available and being used today. No other javascript library comes close to the usage, with the Adobe SWFObject (Flash Player) only taking up 13% of the javascript libraries (“Javascript trends,” 2010).

In addition to the basic library, a team of jQuery developers has released a series of “plug-ins” for the jquery library called jQuery UI. The jQuery UI plugin library features advanced user interface tools previously available throught the Adobe Flash products (“jQuery UI -,” 2010) . The advent of an open source tool that can rival the usability and functionality of Adobe Flash has changed the landscape and the methodology used by web developers to create interactive content.  Developers no longer have to worry about developing interactive content within a flash player.

Figure 2: jQuery makes up 41% of the JavaScript frameworks

source: http://trends.builtwith.com/javascript

Problems occur with flash because the software depends on the user having both a javascript running and the latest flash player to run the SWF file. Also, many of the web browsers can break or show errors when flash is being run on a website. In particular, older versions of IE force the user to either “click” or accept the “active content” on the page before it would load into their browser. The jQuery and jQuery UI libraries are built to be cross platform compatible with all versions of IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera (“jQuery UI -,” 2010). The library depends only on the user having javascript enabled. jQuery was also built to degrade gracefully; this means that the user will not notice, or will not receive errors if the library is not compatible or javascript is entirely turned off.

Ajax has become a stable development tool in the web developer community. Ajax allows users to interact, submit, post, and do an array of actions without having to refresh a page. Ajax drives chat windows, video players and advanced forms. Before the release of the jQuery library, developers had to write hundreds of lines of code and write in scenarios to fix different browser issues in order to fully utilize and deploy ajax driven websites and programs. One of the great features of the jQuery library is a function to perform ajax functions with a single line of code. jQuery allows developers to do more, and code less.

The benefits of using the jQuery library are many. Developers can save time and create more content for their clients for less money. It will cost less money in the future for companies to develop interactive content because the features available through jQuery are free and open to private use. Developing interactive content for the web used to involve purchasing expensive Adobe suits and products like Flash, Dreamweaver and Flex. Now anybody can download the library for free and get it up and in use in a short amount of time.


History – jQuery project. (2010). Retrieved from http://jquery.org/history

John Resig – About. (2010). Retrieved from http://ejohn.org/about/

Javascript trends. (2010). Retrieved from http://trends.builtwith.com/javascript

jQuery Usage Statistics. (2010). Retrieved from http://trends.builtwith.com/javascript/JQuery

jQuery UI – About jQuery UI – the jQuery UI team. (2010). Retrieved from http://jqueryui.com/about